The first popup on the internet was probably built with good intentions. "I really want people to see my message, so I'm going to float it above the page to them!"
Then lots of pages started using popups. And most people hate them, but as any marketer will tell you, they work.
At least, in the sense that the positive return on them is greater than the disgust.
But, as marketers have a tendency to do, things have spun out of control.
From the pop-up came the devious pop-under. Then there was the hyper-obnoxious banner ad, promising "The police are so mad she found this loophole!"
Now we have the loveable "WAIT WAIT PLEASE HOLD ON AND LOOK AT THIS!" popup whenever your mouse leaves the screen. And its good friend the "overlay" that eats up your ENTIRE screen right after you load a page.
As a result, nearly 70 million consumers will be using desktop ad blocking plugins by the end of the year.
Thanks to slimy hackers and irresponsible advertisers, it's harder for everyone to reach new audiences.
Heck, it's a massive challenge to connect with the people we've already converted.
Value in Context
Attention spans are finite but consumers are willing to have theirs manipulated, to an extent.
Protect your audience by adding value in context to every message. Value is something beneficial to someone. Context is the right audience, who have a need for the value you're offering them.
"Value in context" means your sales emails have the context of why you think they're interested in your offer, or it's triggered only after they've visited certain pages on your website. Let them establish the need first, then ride in to save the day.
It means your blog is entertaining or educational. Perhaps you can help them get the most out of a purchase they've already made?
It might mean sharing an enhancement to your product that makes it more attractive to specific groups. Maybe your discount program member benefit has new merchants in their area.
Provide something useful to the right audience at the right time, and you'll have few issues connecting with your audience and earning sustained engagement.
As we've said before, frequency is irrelevant when value is communicated.
Make the Effort
Despite having all the data in the world, we're not going to be able to get personal with every person in a database. There will always be people who unsubscribe from our emails or request to not be contacted.
Some customers just want to buy and be left alone. It happens.
But that shouldn't preclude us from trying to add more value in our communications. Every message, every touchpoint a customer might have, needs to add value in context.
Across-the-board messaging and overzealous selling just don't work any longer.
Online, it's led to ad blocking software. In the real world, it causes people to simply disengage.
Use popups to offer a specific resource to a potential customer on your browser page. Cold call a customer to thank them and let them know you're upgrading their package.
Use whatever channel you prefer. It's far more important to add value in context.